Akhalkalaki is located in Georgia at the foothills of the Akhalkalaki Mountains on the left bank of the Parvana, River that is one of the tributaries of the Kur. The Akhalkalak area once belonged to the Javakhk region of the Gougark province of Greater Armenia. During the first division of Armenia in 387, the Sassanids handed the Akhalkalaki along with the other areas of Javakhk to the Georgian princes. In the 9th century, the southern region of Javakhk, Gogshen was united with the Armenian Bagratuni kingdom but the city of Akhalkalaki remained a part of Georgia. The Georgian-Abkhaz King Smbat Bagrat Bagratuni III (975-1014) built the towers and entrances to the city from 1008 to 1012 and King Bagrat IV (1027-74) built the surrounding walls from 1044-1047.
In ancient times, the main route from Akhaltskha to Gyumri leading to the Ayrarat Province passed through Akhalkalaki. In 1065, the Seljuk-Turks destroyed Akhalkalaki. Akhalkalaki lived a period of flourishing from 11th-12th centuries as a center of trade and craftsmanship. It became part of the Zakarian’s domain along with Javakhk during the 12th-14th centuries. During their reign the city became a self-governing entity.
From 1829-30, thousands of Armenians migrated from the regions of Garin, Ardahan and Khnous to the Akhalkalak area and reflourished more than 50 villages. More than 19 different types of crafts found their place in the city. The immigrants from Garin built the Holy Cross Church in 1856 where St. Mesrob’s School for boys and St. Sandoukht’s School for girls educated the local Armenian youth.
Many Armenian historical monuments have been maintained in Akhalkalaki including, Abul Church (10th c.), Zresk Monastery, Baralet Church (11th c.) and the Karnoud and Akhalkalaki fortresses. Famous Armenian writer D. Demirdjian, Rouben Der Minassian and Dr. Hamo Ohanjanian were natives of Akhalkalaki.